The best game in the last 6 years!
I always dream of space;of what's out there.Surely,there's somebody else out there.We can't possibly be the only living things in the Universe.But our technology advances fast,& if somebody doesn't get to us soon,maybe we'll get to them.That's what happened in Mass Effect.
Well,in year 2148,humanity has descovered on Mars a constuction of alien origin.After numerous studies,it was discovered that it was in fact built by the Protheans,an extinct race which disappeared over 50000 years ago.8 years after,in 2156, the humans discover the Mass Relay,which allows them to travel faster than with the speed of light,permitting them to explore space.Well,in 2157,the humans discover another civilisation on a planet,the Turians,& almost start a war with them.The war is prevented by the Galactic Council on the Citadel.In 2165,the humans manage to get permission to estamblish an Embassy on the Citadel,their power growing.Thing is,you can find all info you want about the solar system,planets,races,technology,politics ;basically everything,from the Galactic Codex, a very interesting addition in the game,in which I've spent entire hours.
Thing is,the action starts about 20 years after the last events,where you're sent to prevent a geth attack & investigate a strange artefact discovered on a planet.Firstly you'll have to build your character,& you'll have lots of options to choose from.You can also determine your past,where you were born,how you ended up travelling in space,& you can also choose your class & specialization.They're different from each other,& I must tell you that this game has a huge replay value.
Not too much to say about the graphics,because really,the game as a whole draws all attention to it,so you'd ignore the graphics.If I really have to tell you something about the graphics,I will have to use only one word:excellent. They couldn't have been better.The interiors look awesome,KotOR like,but much much better.The exteriors look even better,very detailed & well animated,with the perfect cromatic combinations, & a really great draw distance detail.But the characters simply look perfect.Yeah,not only the face/cloathes details are awesome,but the animations & lip-sync are so great that you'll really feel that the characters are real.But about the characters I'll tell you a bit later.As a conclusion for the graphics,they are the perfect choice for this game.I heard the engine is Unreal Engine 3.I would never have said that,but now that I know it,it really seems to make sense. Just to know;it's no Crysis or Lost Via Domus,but it looks definitely better than Gears of War.The only things that I didn't like,graphically speaking,were the motion blur & the film grain.I usually like motion blur,I consider it to be a "delicious" effect,but the one in Mass Effect is really exagerated.When you move you can't distinguish anything,& when you stay put,there still is some motion blur.Geez,motion refers to moving,so how the hell can it be motion if it's not moving?!The film grain would have been more apropriate to a bad SF film from the '50s ,not in Mass Effect.Well except these two things I really can't complain at all about the graphics in Mass Effect.
The sound in Mass Effect is once again,perfect.I've been looking for a long time for the perfect sound,the sound with nothing bad at all.I thought I've seen it in The Godfather, then Bioshock, but the real one was Mass Effect's.What does that mean?It means Mass Effect has the best voice acting (surprisingly,no use of famous actors,such as in The Godfather) ,the most appropriate music for a SF (& really touching sometimes) without the use of famous songs,as in Bioshock,& really the coolest sound effects to be used in a SF game.To start all over again,all the characters in Mass Effect are greatly interpretated by the actors, resulting in the best voice acting in a game.They really seem to be there,to be implicated in the action taking place there,to be affected by everything that's happening.They are not sounding like robots,like bored people who want to finish recording their lines before the baseball match starts.No,the actors really put their best into the recordings,they put heart & emotions in what they are saying, & this is very rare nowdays.I have to firmly congratulate them.The music is the best that SF has to offer.No Star Wars themes fortunatelly,the music is really well fit.You may just ignore its presence sometimes because it's just one of the factors that contributes to the perfect futuristic SF atmosphere, which you'll feel as a whole,not in small parts.But you will actually hear it in the key moments of the game,when it gets more intene,impressive,touching really.Believe me,I know what I'm saying.Next,the explosions/gun shots/all other sound effects are done brialliantly.Nothing bad to say here,so let's move on.
To describe the gameplay in a few words,I'd say it is a mix between Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic & Gears of War. It's obviously that almost everything looks like an improved version of Knights of the Old Republic: the menus,the statistics,the interface, the skill tree/level advancement ;basically everything.Well Bioware also made the first Knight of the Old Republic,so the ressemblance is self-explanatory.Now the combat is planned exactly like in Gears of War:it's real-time,the cover system functions great & why not,it's very intense.Maybe not as intense as in Gears itself,but hey, Mass Effect ain't just a third person shooter.But we'll discuss about the blend later,now let's take it from the beggining.
The first thing you'll have to do is complete that recon mission I spoke about in the beggining.This will be the typical start of the fighting missions,interrupted by some short dialogues & some decisions to take.You'll have some geth to shoot,& that is a very cool thing to do.With two other teammates following you (exactly as in KotOR & Jade Empire,they fight alongside you & level up when you do),you can turn Mass Effect into a tactical shooter by giving your mates orders like attack that enemy,take cover there,throw a gredade or use that special ability.It's a very cool aspect of the game,but it's not really necessary on the lower difficulty levels.But shooting is not an optional thing & you'll certainly need it.As I said before you can take cover & try to shoot the enemy from there but that again depends on the difficulty level.If you're playing on easy the enemy will come forwards to you in a straight line,so you won't need to take cover.On the higher difficulty levels though,the enemy will try to take cover himself,or flank you;in those situations cover for you & your squad is a must-have.You'll also have a bunch of special abilities depending on your class & specialization, such as Overkill (better aiming with increased damage) ,the ability to temporary disable the enemy's shields or to instantly heal your companions if they've fallen down.But I can point you a bad thing here:in KotOR, when your main character was defeated & fell down you could take control of one of the other two characters in your party;actually,you could play as the other characters trough the whole game.Unfortunatelly, you can't do that in Mass Effect:you'll be stuck with your character trough the whole game & if some companions fall during fight you can ressurect them but if you fall,game over.That's not too bright.
As for the weapons,they're divided into 5 cathegories:pistols, assault rifles ,shotguns ,sniper rifles & grenades.Each of these cathegories has a skill bar for every character & their weapons.There are a lot of weapons corresponding to the cathegories & each weapon has some upgrade slots:better ammunition or just add-ons that result in better accuracy, more damage to certain types of enemy,etc.To make things easier,the game's interface will sort the objects in the inventory for us,so that the best ones will always be the first & easiest to select.Oh,I forgot,all these things I said apply to armor as well.Now let's go again for a not-so-good thing:weapons overheat.Quite quickly.I dunno if the weapons 150 years from now will overheat or not,but in Mass Effect you fire two shotgun rounds & it's already overheated.This is where an ugly bug comes in:sometimes the overheated weapons will not de-overheat & will remain unusable.And believe me,it ain't nice to go trough an area crawling with enemies only with your pistol.
OK,so that concludes fighting & inventory,so now let's speak about the quests.It's true that man yof them will always get you too shooting someone or blowing something up,but that doesn't go for all of them.In some you'll have to use your persuade or intimidate skills in order to convince some persons to act right.Now here's where your orientation comes in; as in Knights of the Old Republic there seem to be two sides,but not really seen as good & evil,cause that really got lame by now.No, in Mass Effect you can either be the nice guy who wants to help all people who need it ,called Paragon ,or the cold-hearted one who does everything to accomplish his goals,even if that means murdering innocents,Renegade.While acting as a Renegade
you may do quest faster & easier,Paragon always brings you more satisfaction,& also allows you to enter Mass Effect's universe better & know all the characters much better.The good thing is that there isn't only a single bar showing the alignment:there are two.Because,even if you're a Paragon,you may act as a Renegade in some situations.Okay,now going back to the quests,there are also some quests that require pathfinding skills in order to find some objects or characters.There are no stealh-base ones,but that would have ment a stealh-engine,& I don't know how that would have ended up.Nevertheless,whatever you do in Mass Effect,you'll talk a lot.Yeah,the dialogues with the other characters are maybe the best part in the game.Not only because of the terrific voice acting but also thanks to the very wisely written lines & very cinematic look of the dialogues.I mean,the characters won't just stay there looking to each other while talking;they'll move from one place to another,gesticulate...in a word,they really seem like speaking & directly implicating themselves in what they're saying,both audio & vissualy.Yeah,in these moments you won't feel like playing a game (the only thing you'll have to do is selecting the dialogue lines);you'll really feel like watching a movie.A really great one indeed.
Now at a certain point in the game,you'll be let to explore the galaxy as you wish.You'll be given acces to the Galactic Map,from where you can navigate trough the different solar systems.Thing is,there are a lot of clusters & nebulas,each containing one or more solar systems,& each solar system containing a lot of planets.In alll,there are certainly over 200 planets,with their own attributes:specific orbit duration,gravity,day lenght,temperature,population (if existent) & a lot of other things.Some of these planets may be colonies or uncolonized & uncharted.Well it's a very cool thing that you can explore & chart these planets.You land on them with your special jeep,explore part of their surface & maybe you can find something interesting:some rare minerals,resources that can be gathered or artifacts.And you may encounter a couple of people in your adventure who would like to know about such facts.Of course,the local inhabitants,be it huge sandworms or just monkeys or strange jellyfish,may not ignore you totally.Not once have I found myself in an epic battle against some upset sandworms or running after a naughty monkey who stole an important datapad.You might also encounter pirate bases in the most unexpected places,& somebody might repay you hansomely if you destroy the base & kill them.In a word,the galaxy is a very very big place & you have a huge number of things to do & worlds to explore.
You might also like decrypting.It's done by a fun minigame that is a good addition to the gameplay.By decrtypting or hacking you might be lucky enough to recover some great equipment or some Codex entries.
What's this Galactic Codex?It's a kind of Encyclopedia regarding the Mass Effect universe.Many of you will ignore it,but that's a very stupid thing to do.I highly recommand you to read it (or listen to it being read),because this way you'll get to know everything about the history of the galaxy,the races,planets,politics...a lot of things you'll love to know & that may come in handy at a certain point in the game.All put together,the Mass Effect universe is new,but very intelligently done,so that it comes better than the Star Wars universe at some points.And that's trully incredible.I can't wait to see it in another game (ummm, Mass Effect 2),but there are also two books available that take place in the same universe:one being a prequel to Mass Effect,the other one a sequel & a prequel to Mass Effect 2.So till it comes out,you'll have more than enough time to read them both.
I told you what you should know about Mass Effect's storyline,so I won't say it again.So to conclude this as well,Mass Effect is set in an excellent universe & also benefits from an awesome storyline,strong characters & not only.Thing is,you'll make the storyline,based on your decisions.Not exactly as in the Witcher,but more that KotOR did.The other characters are so greatly created that you'll feel very close to them (speaking of your friends).The moment when you're forced to let one behind to sacrifice himself is trully epic & you'll nearly cry then.And I think that says a lot of things about this game.
I've waited a lot for Mass Effect to come out for the PC,& I was convinced that it will be an awesome game.But it really excedeed my expectations:it's better than you can possibly imagine.Some people say it's not as good as some classic SF RPG-s,or that it is made up with a lot of clichees.Don't believe them.I played most SF role-playing games,classic or not,& Mass Effect smokes them all.Mass Effect is the best game in the last 6 years & I think that says it all.